(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) – November 14, 2013 – From New Hampshire to Arkansas, more than 40 women—mostly women’s ministry and small-group leaders—gathered in Birmingham, Ala., Oct. 24–26, for Heart to Heart with Women in Bible Study, to hear from and visit with renowned Bible study authors and gain skills and information about Bible study resources.
The weekend event was hosted by New Hope Publishers to launch a new online community—New Hope Women in Bible Study—at NewHopeDigital.com/women. The site is geared toward individuals, ministry leaders and others interested in resources and practical ways to engage women in Bible study and grow small groups while also getting to know the authors behind the studies.
“This is a space where women using New Hope Bible studies as individuals or in small groups can meet authors, interact with one another, have access to unique content and learn more about New Hope Bible study resources and authors,” explained Andrea Mullins, New Hope publisher.
Also launched at the event was NewHopeInteractive.com. Through a partnership with HelloMogo Digital Book Lab, New Hope is one of the first publishers to offer Bible studies in an interactive workbook format that allows readers to develop their own online or desktop library of interactive Bible study workbooks. There are four Bible studies currently available at NewHopeInteractive.com with this interactive workbook feature.
The weekend also offered opportunities for worship and to network and fellowship with other women teaching Bible studies.
“Tranformative” is how Bonnie Gorman, a member at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala., described the weekend.
“This experience is much like when I went through the Live a Praying Life Bible study,” Gorman said. “It brought me a renewed sense of peace, strength, and freedom to live a Christ-centered life with purpose.”
Jennifer Kennedy Dean, author of Live a Praying Life, spoke at the opening session on Thursday evening.
Along with Dean, authors such as Debra Berry, Edna Ellison, Kathy Howard, Brenda Ladun, and Kimberly Sowell led conferences on their Bible studies and topics such as trusting God, spiritual growth, suffering, restoration, and the importance of being an encourager.
“Each workshop I attended was very informative, thought-provoking and applicable to all women no matter what stage in life they may be in,” said Danetter Owens of Birmingham, Ala. “Powerful, relevant breakdown and application of God’s Word.”
Brenda Goss of Anniston, Ala., agreed. “I loved the breakout sessions,” she said. “So much insight into God’s Word was given and placed in my heart. I’ll never forget this event.”
On Saturday, a panel discussion offered insight and practical considerations related to women’s Bible studies. On the panel were Berry, Ellison and Howard, along with Dawn Stephens, who serves as minister to women and women’s small groups at the Church of Brook Hills in Birmingham.
When choosing Bible studies, each on the panel agreed it is essential to know the theology of the writer and whether or not the content is from a reputable source known for being consistent with what the Bible teaches. They also underscored the value in knowing your audience.
“It’s important to consider the needs of the women in the group as well as the capabilities of the leaders,” said Howard. “For example, if the leader is new, it might be helpful to use studies that have study guides, listening questions, and supplemental resources.”
Stephens said practical tips for working with small groups in general are also helpful. “Talking through things like how to handle prayer requests and working with different personalities in a group is helpful to a new leader,” she said. “It’s important to check on them, love them, and pray for them.”
If a Bible study is diminishing in size, Howard suggested simply asking those who left why they made that decision. “It’s also good to survey the ladies in your church, especially the ones who don’t come [to a Bible study], to see if you can determine what the barriers might be,” she encouraged. “It could be as simple as moving [the study] to another day of the week.”
The mission of New Hope® Publishers is to provide books that challenge readers to understand and be radically involved in the mission of God. New Hope Publishers is the general trade publishing division for WMU®, a missions auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention. New Hope Publishers is a member of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) and can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.